Monday, December 31, 2012

Ring Out Wild Bells for a New Year

Christmas day has come and gone.  The New Year is hours away.  The words of poet Alfred Tennyson ring in my ears, and I ask myself questions like: "What do I need to let go of so there is space for something more important or meaningful in my life?"and "What can I do to increase peace on earth? Or in my own family or neighborhood?" and "How can I show a larger heart and kindlier hand?"  The answers to these questions are found in each individuals' soul, and if included in each persons' list of resolutions, 2013 will indeed be a New Year!

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Transformational Entertainment Meets Transformational Education

Recently I was introduced to the GATE organization: Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment.  Here is a brief description of what GATE is all about  It's thrilling to know there is such a great interest for artists, entertainers and educators to provide information, resources, and entertainment options that are uplifting, edifying, transformational, and focused on global awareness from the inside out.

Why is this so exciting to me?  Because it's what I write!  Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog is written in a genre I coined as "Young Adult Transformational Fantasy".  A book becomes transformational when the person reading it does so with the intent to make a difference.  Intent transforms!  "The Stelladaur Academy's mission is to provide an online campus where young people discover the value of imagination and intuitiveness in the pursuit of knowledge, creative renewal, and compassionate living."  The novel is used as the main resource in the curriculum. If G.A.T.E. meant Global Alliance for Transformational Education, GATE and The Stelladaur Academy would be twins!

I look forward to meeting with Jim Carey and Echkart Tolle in Hollywood in February at GATE3, and sharing ideas that transform the way we think about entertainment and education!

Monday, December 10, 2012

T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak

When was the last time you said something to someone and immediately wished you hadn't? Or regretted saying it the way you did? Words are a powerful communication tool that can be used to help build and strengthen relationships.  However, all too often we speak without considering the impact our  words may have on another.  This can be especially true when talking with those we love the most. At this time of year when spreading a little cheer, good will, and even peace on earth seems to be more accepted--and hopefully more prevalent--perhaps the best gift we can give to each other is words of kindness.

I recently heard an insightful acronym for the word think, to be used as a barometer whenever our emotions may be obscuring our ability to say something nice.

T - Is it True?
This question requires us to stop and take time to consider if our perspective is skewed, or otherwise completely out of whack.  Maybe we don't have all the facts, or there is something about the situation of which we are unaware. Perhaps the ego is in the way and emotions are blocking us from seeing a more accurate perspective.  Is it actually true?

H - Is it Helpful?
We ought to consider if our comments will help the situation or improve the circumstances. Will it help build relationships?  In the long run, relationships are always more important than opinions.

I - Is it Inspiring?
This suggests a deeper level of language than merely making a helpful comment.  When we say something inspiring, we are noticing the value in another person and the contributions they have to make. We hope our words help them recognize this in themselves.  Inspiring words are carefully chosen and used with genuineness.

N - Is it Necessary? 
"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" is sound advice.  And sometimes it really is effective to literally "bite your tongue" while you determine if what you're dying to say is necessary. Of course important issues need to be addressed and stuffing things under the rug doesn't make them go away.  However, it may not be necessary to say what's on our mind at the particular moment we feel like saying something.  We may be better served by letting it go, or coming back to it later.

K - Is it Kind?
If we've considered the first four questions of the "THINK-Before-You-Speak-Barometer", and the situation still merits a verbal response, make sure it is spoken with words of kindness.  "Thank you", "please", "I am sorry", "I respect your feelings", "I appreciate", "I like the way...." and other gentle words will soften tense situations and improve relationships.

I saw a bumper sticker not long ago that simply stated, "Don't believe everything you think!" This, too, is a poignant reminder to see if our ego is in the way.  Next time you feel like you have a lot to say, or you can't wait to tell someone what you really think about them, or you just want to vent, try the T.H.I.N.K. barometer.  You may find that your temperature cools down, you breathe more easily, and your heart beats more calmly.  I understand that kindess actually expands the heart. Isn't that what happened to the Grinch?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When Disappointment Strikes

Part of life is dealing with disappointments. Every day we face challenges that test our ability to cope.  And every day there is an endless list of possible ways in which things don't go as we plan. The alarm didn't go off...There's no hot water...You miss the bus or your car runs out of gas...You get a lower score than you expected on a test...Someone reacts differently than you thought they would...Your lunch tastes "blah"or isn't what you ordered....Your credit card is denied...The movie you thought was going be just what you need to forget about your woes is a huge let down...There's no toothpaste but the store is closed so you go to bed with a really bad taste in your mouth.  Some days are like that.  But the key is to not let that yucky taste linger. Brush it away with a deep sigh and a reminder that tomorrow is another day.

But what happens when the disappointment is much more than an irritation or annoyance? And a sigh brings little relief, or you're not even sure tomorrow will come. What do you do when it's something that grips your heart, and your whole body, into a tight knot? You didn't get the job you felt sure you had in the bag...Someone you love betrays you...The doctor uses the word "terminal"...Your parents use the word "divorce", and mean it...A dream is shattered. These deep disappointments, and countless other scenarios, are often labeled as tragedies.  However, when it's something that's completely out of our control, the best refuge comes from within. Times like these give us opportunity to define and refine our mind, our heart, and our soul.  Or at least our resolve to not let the situation drive us to depression or despair.  Allow the experience to increase our desire for a deeper and more meaningful life.

Easy to do?  Absolutely not!  It's an ongoing process indeed.  But when real disappointment strikes, our greatest strength is our ability to decide how we're going to react and what we're going to do with it. It's that very gift of decision that changes us from the inside out.  And makes all the difference.   

Monday, November 26, 2012

Another Look at Gratitude

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. Hopefully our reasons for giving thanks is ever present. Setting aside a particular day helps us focus our attention on our many blessing, but when thanksgiving and gratitude becomes a part of the way we live, then our lives begin to have more meaning. It's one thing to feel grateful when things are going the way we want them to. It requires a more conscious effort when we are dealing with pain, discouragement, disappointment, depression, or a challenging situation of any kind. The list of possible reasons for refusing, or forgetting, to be grateful could be quite extensive. However, the older I get the more convinced I am that everyone has hard stuff. Really hard stuff. Maybe it's supposed to be that way. Since what goes around comes around, if we dwell on the hard stuff, we're likely to get more of it. By contrast, once we start to recognize and verbalize our blessings, like magic, we seem to have more blessings!

In Chapter Twenty-One of Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog, Reilly and Norah visit a place called Zora "where the sun always rises, shining hope into every moment". They meet Flavio Xanthipee, a yellow haired horseman who shows them some interesting things about gratitude. "...your collective gratitude offers answers to the questions locked inside of you, but which can only be revealed upon your asking," Flavio Xanthipee said. "Look for the good that emerges out of difficulties, challenges and sorrow, and you will always find reasons to be grateful. Gratitude dispels the gloom of any dark moment and opens our hearts to hope."

Next time something doesn't go the way you had hoped, or you encounter a real disappointment, try simply expressing gratitude for the opportunity for growth, and the greater good that will come of it. Trust that it will come. And it will. With practice, you'll see that although a particular circumstance or situation may not immediately change, your perspective changes. And your heart opens up a little more. With an open heart, the reasons to be grateful will be endless.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Part of My Journey of The Stelladaur Series

Two days ago, on the Monday night before Thanksgiving, I hosted an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) party for my debut novel The Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog! Two years ago, on the Monday night before Thanksgiving, my husband suffered a heart attack. I witnessed both events in my living room, in the middle of a bad storm that left us, and thousands of others, without power for many hours and days. The official unveiling of the novel occurred by candlelight, flashlight, and a battery-operated spotlight. My husband was transported to the hospital by the lights of an ambulance, a ferry, and the dimmed Seattle skyline. The ARC party felt cozy and intimate with twenty or so of my dearest family and friends who have been a big part of the book coming to life. The evening of my husband’s heart attack left me feeling inexpressible gratitude for life itself, and that he is still here with our family today. To me, both are extraordinary events in the rather ordinary journey of my life. That being said, the stories behind every story are always extraordinary! The Stelladaur Series began to take form in 2008, as I jotted down character and scene ideas, plot structure, and names for over a year, in a small journal my sister gave me for my birthday. I attended my first writing workshop at our local library that year. In June 2009, I woke to the sound of heavy rain on the skylight about my bed and said, “Today I write the first chapter.” And I did. Then I put the manuscript away for eight months while I shifted my time and energies to an unrelated project I had committed to do. From the end of January 2010 through May 2010 I wrote the novel—five days a week, six to ten hours a day. It was heaven! I basically listened to the characters tell me their story and typed it into my computer. Then I put it on the back burner as I dedicated ten more months to yet another prior commitment. Somewhere in there, I edited the manuscript dozens of times and then queried dozens of agents. One agent kept the manuscript for six months but ultimately decided it wasn’t the best match for her. It turned out to be a blessing. By spring of 2011 when the idea for The Stelladaur Academy literally popped into my brain, it became clear to me that I needed to jump into the world of Indie Publishing. This has proved to be a wise choice, but that story will be told later. In September of 2011, I did something really bold. I printed bookmarks for The Stelladaur Series with the following text at the bottom: Book Launch 2012! I still had no idea how that was going to happen! But I organized numerous book reads in various states, mostly at middle schools and high schools. It was a delight to meet those awesome young people! One of the best compliments came from a 6th grade boy who raised his hand and asked, “Is this real?” The kid beside him nudged him and said, “No, it’s not real. It’s a fantasy!” But the first boy wasn’t convinced. “No, it’s real. I know it is!” The Stelladaur Series is about discovering what you really want by understanding the universal connection between imagination and following one’s own heart. What’s more real than one’s heart? Although the official book launch is on March 1, 2013, the fact that the Advance Reader Copies are in hand now—in 2012—and have been sent to reviewers, is no small thing as far as the power of affirmation goes! This, too, is one of the themes of the novel. For any and all who may decide to follow my blog, welcome! I promise to post weekly on topics relevant to everything the Stelladaur represents. Much more to come!! Please visit my web site and watch the AWESOME official book trailer at ! (Note: The kids in the photo below play the roles of Reilly and Norah, the names of the main characters in the book trailer!)